Display, Search and Social Ads – What’s the Difference?

By crystalmarketing | July 15th, 2021

The three kinds of paid advertising – display, search, and social ads – each work to improve a different aspect of your business’s growth.

Display ads are relatively cheap, but difficult to target. Search ads are targeted, but can be limited to their specific keywords. Social ads help build brand identity, but can be costly in both money and reputation if poorly executed.

Here’s what you need to know about the different kinds of paid advertising.

A Quick Recap of Paid Advertising

Advertising in general is the method by which you get your business in front of potential customers. Paid advertising, then, is buying a prime spot to get the attention of those potential customers.

You use paid advertising – alongside unpaid advertising such as word of mouth, interaction, and customer reviews – to boost your business’s brand awareness and trust with the public. If done right, it can help you generate new leads and build up your business over time.

To run paid advertising campaigns, you set a maximum budget (sometimes broken down into a weekly or daily cap), set up your campaign with a targeted audience and a scheduled run time, and simply let it run until the budget is out or the set campaign deadline is hit.

The Kinds of Paid Advertising

There are three main kinds of paid advertising: display, search, and social ads.

Display Ads

Display ads are simple, relatively cheap promotion campaigns that consist of a visual component and a call to action (CTA). The visual component can be an image, video, or set of text, while the CTA is usually a direct link at the bottom of the piece.

These ads generally have a set campaign goal, such as increasing website traffic or selling a specific product, and are passively shown to consumers through preassigned placement on websites and social media, which means they may not always be shown to consumers ready to purchase or interested at all.

Banner ads and sidebars are common examples of display ads.

Search Ads

Search ads are campaigns that put a company’s search engine listing at the top of certain keyword queries no matter what their organic ranking is. This means that you don’t have to have perfect SEO strategies to make sure you’re showing up in your customers’ results.

The main parts of a search ad are the same as any search result – the headline, URL, and description. As such, you do have to have a convincing SEO setup for your ad or the placement isn’t going to make you appear any more trustworthy.

Search ads are often priced by the click and won on a bid system.

Social Ads

Social ads are advertising campaigns run through social media platforms. Most of these campaigns can be run on multiple platforms at once – cross-posting on Instagram and Facebook is one of the most common methods – and can be set to reach extremely specific demographics.

Social media ads are great for targeting younger consumers and building trust for your brand with direct interaction. Unfortunately, a poorly-executed social ad campaign can stain your reputation for many years to come. Anything posted on the Internet is there forever.

Social ads are generally priced around the cost per impression (CPM) or the cost per installation (CPI), depending on the product being sold and the specific platform.

Which Ad is Best for Your Business?

To decide which ad type is best for your business, consider the following questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • What is your goal for this ad campaign?
  • Who do you want to target?

Choosing the right type of ad may mean trying all three and comparing the results. Move forward with only the type or types that worked best for your goals, and try different strategies to find the best solution for your business.

Wrap Up

Paid advertising is a great way to put your business in front of new people and grow it more quickly than by relying on organic advertising. Each ad type has its benefits, but make sure that they aren’t outweighed by the limitations.

Try different ad types and strategies, and you’ll narrow down exactly what it is that your business needs to succeed.

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